Sunday, November 7, 2010

Houston Grand Opera has greater financial transparency than Electronic Frontier Foundation

Canadian science fiction author, blogger, and copyright activist Cory "Boing Boing" Doctorow will be in San Francisco tomorrow evening, Monday, November 8, 2010, serving as master of ceremonies for the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 19th Annual Pioneer Awards. EFF, a tax-exempt non-profit organization that bills itself as “the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world,” established the Pioneer Awards in 1992 “to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology.”

Unfortunately, EFF will not be receiving any pioneer awards this year in the realm of digital financial disclosure and transparency (D&T). After 20 years of confronting cutting-edge issues, fighting for consumer freedom, and suing corporations and the government over access to secret records, here’s the extent of EFF’s digital commitment to D&T, as posted on its website:
Contrast that with these documents, all posted on the website of the Houston Grand Opera, a tax-exempt non-profit organization founded in 1955 that “exists to contribute to the cultural enrichment of the city of Houston and the nation by producing and performing world-class opera and creating a diverse, innovative and balanced program of performances, events, community and education projects which reaches the widest possible public”:
So, while VIPs at EFF will be enjoying refreshing drinks, tasty hors d’oeuvres, and soothing music tomorrow evening, ask yourself this question: Why would I want to donate to a "digital" organization that doesn’t have the audacity to post its financial records on the Internet? The answer is obvious.

Pictured: Beverly Sills, singing about financial D&T, ca. 1970.


  1. The Form 990 is required of all 501(c)(3) organizations. If you want to see EFF's Form 990, all you need to do is ask them. They are required to provide the last three 990s filed for inspection. No group is required to post them online, so the EFF isn't going anything wrong.

  2. Scott: You are correct. No group is required to post their 990's on their website. I am simply pointing out that the Houston Grand Opera has greater financial transparency than the Electronic Frontier Foundation.